In September, I decided to sign up for an eight-week course ‘Become a master writer’. If you know me, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I love to write. Now I have plenty of time to spend, during my famous leaky brain days, I thought why not spend it wisely? And so I signed up. Every week, we get an assignment, that I like to share with you. Here is my second assignment: Hidden.


Why are the days flying by so fast, I think to myself, as I stare at another assignment for my Become a Master Writer Course. I enjoy the course, I really do. But between a birthday, a leaky brain, and answering clients, it was hard to keep up with the daily lessons. So here we are, another Sunday. While the rain outside, breaks the silence inside, I’m all snuggled up under my fluffy blanket with a hot cup of tea and my laptop. The assignment should be easy; write 700 words about one word.

It sounds a bit contradicting, 700 words about one word. Scanning through the list of words that were given, one word lights up a whole new story: Hidden! I stare outside the window while my leaky brain takes a run with the word. If it wasn’t hidden, it would have been fixed by now. I would have had more time and energy to follow the course while working for my clients. After work, wander over mountains and through forests, enjoying the beautiful colours of autumn. But no, it remains hidden.

It all started three months ago, July 15 to be exact. If only I had gone to the bathroom one more time before I left, or maybe woken up five minutes earlier, I wouldn’t have been in this mess. But like always, I was that particular morning right on time, punctual as I always am. Three minutes after I left my house, a car ran with full speed into my car. Twelve minutes after I left the house, I was dragged into an ambulance and on my way to the hospital. Five hours later, I was home again.

I survived. I’m fine, just bruises and bumps, I keep telling myself while the sound of crushing metal replays every 10 seconds in my brain. It could have been so much worse. Being in a car crash is already terrifying in your own country but being in a foreign country where people ask you to spell your impossible name 15 times in another language while having a brain injury is a whole different story. In between answering questions, so many questions were running around in circles in my head. Where am I going, what are they doing, who do I call, who’s gonna pay for this, and why do they need to know my weight? It was obvious, that I had severe neck and head injuries but they kept wanting to know my weight. Are they going to lecture me about the risk of diabetes? Auw! Why do I get an injection? Can somebody tell me what is going on?

“I’m your lawyer, please fill this in so we can start building a case.” Wait, what? In Holland, we often joked about the “I sue you” mentality in America but now I get to experience that it’s not a joke. This is really happening to me. I get to say things as “my lawyer says..” And “my lawyer wants…” My lawyer wanted me to go to a special whiplash and spine doctor and so I went there. For ‘my case’.

It must have been about twenty X-rays and 4 MRIs later, when my doctor told me the results. “We have found a leak in your spinal cord, a CSF leak. To avoid any further damage, you have to stay flat until we can find the leak.” With my simple way of thinking, I pictured a punctured tyre. While the doctor kept talking, my mind wandered back to the days when my kids had punctured tyres every other week and I simply patched them up and they were good to go.

“….myelogram, three to four blood patches…Los Angeles.” I look up from my train of thought, realising I missed most of his explanation. Lately, I’m missing a lot, my focus, my vision, my words, and my life. In the first week after the accident, I had hoped that things would soon be back to normal. However, after more than three months of living life in a constant horizontal position, I start to realise, as long as this impossible leak stays hidden, the life as I knew and loved so much is gone.



Want to know more about the picture books I published?
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